October 24, 2017

PAST PERFORMANCE IS…WELL, EXACTLY WHAT YOU’D EXPECT, TO BE HONEST:

Harry Belafonte appeared dazed, struggling to stand with a cane as an aide guided him slowly to his place on stage. Having caught his breath, the 90-year-old singer and civil rights activist warned the crowd at Carnegie Music Hall on Friday night that this was probably his last public appearance.

It lasted nearly two hours. Despite appearing disoriented – a stroke a few years ago took away his inner-ear balance – and taking long breaks to gathers his thoughts, Belafonte brought the crowd to rising cheers and chants.

He also made a startling statement. In electing Donald Trump, he said, “the country made a mistake and I think the next mistake might very well be the gas chamber and what happened to Jews [under] Hitler is not too far from our door.”

— “Harry Belafonte tells crowd at likely last public appearance: ‘We shall overcome,’” the London Guardian, Saturday.

How “startling” can it be, given Belafonte’s many past incendiary political statements, including this cringe-inducing moment:

Entertainer/activist Harry Belafonte has retracted some of the controversial comments he made at a civil rights march in Atlanta regarding Jews working for Hitler, but his retraction may have created even more controversy for the singer.

During an interview with Cybercast News Service at the Aug. 7 march, Belafonte asserted that Adolf Hitler’s regime in Germany included Jews and that African Americans working in the Bush administration should be compared to Jews working for Hitler.

“Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich,” Belafonte said on Saturday. He went on to label African Americans working in the Bush administration as “tyrants.”

On Wednesday, Belafonte told the Jerusalem Post: “I do regret the sentence was not structured more accurately.” He added: “I, too, agree that Jews weren’t ‘high up.'”

— “Belafonte’s Retraction of Remarks on Jews Causes New Flap,” CNS News, July 7th, 2008.

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